One man is dead and four women are missing after a group of armed Islamists attacked a church service in rural Northern Nigeria.

The attack happened on April 25 at the Haske Baptist Church in Kaduna State. The church was attacked by a group of armed men belonging to an ethnic-Fulani militant group.

“Preliminary investigation conducted so far revealed that four persons are missing which arouse a suspicion that they might have been kidnapped by the hoodlums,” police spokesperson Mohammed Jalige told local media.

Sources identify the deceased as Dr. Zacharia Dogon Yaro, a local physician. His wife has been identified as one of the women kidnapped.

In the past couple of years, violence against Christians has increased dramatically in Nigeria, with kidnappings becoming a common occurrence.

The rapid increase in violence has been attributed to militias formed by Nigeria’s Fulani ethnicity. Fulani gangs and militias have been inspired by other larger Islamist groups active in the country such as ISIS.

Khataza Gondwe, a Nigerian employee of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, told the Christian Post that Christians in many areas are now afraid to leave home as the risk of kidnapping continues to rise.

“Kidnappers have expanded their operations to the extent that everybody, every civilian right now feels like prisoners because they’re afraid when driving outside of towns and cities,” Gondwe said. 

“Once on an open road, they are subject to being abducted … Armed men can emerge [from] the bush and take people away, leave cars behind. At the moment, that kind of kidnapping is coming closer and closer to the cities.”

Earlier this year, Nigerian Priest Fr. John Gbakaan was found murdered and mutilated after militants kidnapped and attempted to ransom him.

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